This month we are using this space to remind you that there are things you can rent a room in a hotel for besides sleeping. Maybe, from time to time, you have other needs. Perhaps you’ve wondered whether or not we could accommodate those desires. Well, the answer is that we have rooms that offer a wide range of possibilities, and have no problem helping you to host even a pretty large group. We are very experienced and quite flexible. That’s right, I’m talking about the meeting rooms!
We have large meeting rooms and small meeting rooms. We can set your meeting up classroom style, with whiteboards and rulers for rapping knuckles. Or we can open the room up and run a buffet along the wall. Speaking of the buffet, we have a nice range of menus from you to choose from when you book one of our meeting rooms. From contemporary California cuisine to home style Mexican to random recipes from the kitchen of our general manager, you’ll find something to suit the tone of your event. And if you don’t, then complain and we’ll figure it out!
I’ll say this: If you’re reading this, chances are you already love spending the night with us. And if you love going to bed with us, I’m pretty sure you’ll love us in the daytime too.
Does it seem to you like I write too much about things to do in San Francisco? Because it seems to my boss, our general manager, that I do. I am, in fact, openly discouraged from finding new things for you to check out in, as she must grudgingly admit that everyone around here calls it, “the city”. There’s so much around here that isn’t San Francisco, she insists time and time again, and, anyway, everyone will always go there without us telling them to.
The thing is, I don’t even disagree with her general position, but what am I supposed to do about the particular things that I feel a moral obligation to share with you? Yesterday, for example, I had two scoops of ice cream on a cone, one salted licorice and the other black sesame, and I think my life was changed by the experience. Un-sweet ice cream was already a revelation, but to get to go even deeper into those complex flavors was, and I’m sorry to sound insane and, no, I haven’t forgotten that I’m talking about an ice cream cone, but it was moving. Seriously. I kept telling my friend how lucky I was to have it in my mouth.
You’re curious, aren’t you? You’d defend my decision to write about this, I think. Especially after you’ve been to Humphrey Slocombe and seen for yourself.
People get granted all kinds of gifts in life. Some can run fast. Others can cook well. A lucky few can sing like birds. Many of you are good with numbers. I can hold my breath longer than most people I know. Roberto, who you can find behind our front desk, has a gift for customer service. It comes naturally to him, he says. It’s easy for him to be with people, to spend his days helping all of you transition into your time in Silicon Valley. He believes that this is the gift that he was given.
Though he’s only been with us since 2008, Roberto has been working in hotels for the last 15 years. He has a string of household names in his past; ours is his first adventure in non-corporate hospitality. A super-professional, he will say very adamantly that he does not compare hotels. But if you push and push and really make a nuisance of yourself, it’s possible to learn from Roberto what we always suspected to be true anyway: The big chains don’t care as much as we do. Officially, as in their policies are just less supportive of customer service. Which, especially for someone who feels that their specialty in life is customer service, is just not as satisfying an environment to spend a working life in. Score yet another point for small business in America!
When I was growing up, my mother and I had our hair cut by a man named Allen, who, I think it’s fair to say, was insane. Every six weeks I listened to him talk too fast about aliens and government spies, trying as hard as I could to will his scissors away from my head, but to no avail. And so I, the shiest girl in the class, wore way-too-radical bobs, with tails and asymmetrical lines, through a lot of my delicate years because this man thought he should take it upon himself to see that I was a non-conformist and my mother thought that that was a funny project. Sometimes being a child sucked.
There was one good part about that inescapable Willow Glen appointment, though: When it was over we got to get lunch next door at La Villa Delicatessen. This is a classic Italian deli, the kind that’s half a place you can sit and eat lunch in and half a specialty grocery store. I would get lasagna, the absolute favorite food of my childhood, and delight in the drastic shift in my circumstances.
Now when I go, I go for an overstuffed sub on a fresh sourdough roll and realize that, in some ways, it’s kind of an unremarkable place, because it’s just like all the others that are like it. But there aren’t so many delis like this anymore and it’s good to know where to find the ones that are left. Plus, it’s on a pretty, tree-lined street full of fun shops and there’s sidewalk seating. I’ll never not go there, and maybe you’d like to go there someday too.
I’m coming to think, as time passes, that maybe the highest compliment I have to give is to find a person or a thing non-generic. In this cynical era where corporations are selling unique identities to whoever’s got the money and perfect beauty can’t be trusted not to be made of silicon, it’s so nice to find things that seem only to be representing themselves.
Reading about the Ladera Vineyards, I felt the personalities of a group of people. A farming couple from Montana who miss their cows, but are happy, at least, to still be in agriculture. A winemaker who was so excited, when she got into a professional winery for the first time, to learn that there are machines to de-stem the grapes. The couple’s daughter who studied sound engineering and art history and sells her lavender at the winery, but swears she knows about wine too. It’s not that it’s touching, it’s that it feels real.
We, here at this hotel, are so proud to be pouring wines made by people who take this much particular care of the details of their business. Their wine is every bit as good as their storytelling, every bit as real, and we are so grateful to have a means of supporting them. So, the next time you’re here with us, ask for a glass of Ladera. We’ll be very happy to pour it for you.